What do I mean by the “both and” religion? I mean that the Church is one of seeming paradoxes. We proclaim that Jesus is both man and God. We say that both spirit and flesh are good. We hold that both poor and rich are beloved in the eyes of God. We performboth the ritual and the prayer. We say we need both faith and reason. We say one is redeemed by both faith and good works.
If this doesn’t strike you as odd, it should. I know of no other religion that puts two extremes beside each other without turning it into a mixture of the two, or on the other hand accepts one and ignores the other. Catholicism looks at the whole picture, it combines the two extremes, and yet allows them to be distinctly and uniquely their own. This even confuses me a little so let me use some kindergarten color knowledge to illustrate this.
This is the Catholic model
On the person of Jesus: was He human? Was He divine? The Arian heresy held that Jesus was created by God the Father, therefore He was not of the same being and not divine in nature and so subordinate to the Father. On the other side you have the Sabellianist heresy, which said that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were just masks worn by one entity, God, so Jesus was only divine and not at all human. These both inherently say “No” to the other side of the truth about Christ. The Catholic Church says “No” to the “No” of these heresies, which is another way of saying “Yes” to the truth of Jesus’ being both fully human and fully divine. In the case of St. Nicholas he said “No” to the Arian bishop at the Council of Nicaea with his fist. (Our beloved gift-giving saint is also a total badass if you didn’t know)
So is the Catholic Church the one true Church with the one true Faith? Yes. She is, in fact, the one institution that has truly free thought, truly free love, truly free faith, truly free rationality, truly free action, truly free enlightenment, truly free romanticism, truly free joy; she is truly free. I trust in the freedom of the “both and” church that says “No” to impossibility and “Yes” to the possibility of the Truth, the balance of two distinct extremes that would seem to conflict in our human minds. She keeps her eyes open to the whole picture, whether it’s easy to accept or not. She also realizes that the whole picture is infinitely beyond us, because it is God, so we must always do more to take in more of the whole picture. The Church is more than the city on a hill, she is the city balancing at the sharp peak of a two-colored mountain, one half is blue, the other is yellow.